“Just having that much time, just knowing that I wasn't going to turn anything in, I think I got to write more. I found more songs. I think the quality of songs are better because of that,” Allan said.
He co-wrote “Every Storm” with his pal Matt Warren and Hillary Lindsey, who performed the background vocals and became the female singer featured on one of Allan's songs.
“She sang on the demo at my house and ... she's got a really good voice,” he said.
“It seemed like everything I was doing especially in the beginning had like a Bakersfield flavor so it was always like the one guy voice behind me,” he said, adding with a laugh, “That's just it. I don't really hate women. I love women.”
While Allan has co-produced most of his past projects with Mark Wright, he crafted about a third of “Set You Free” with Wright, another third of it with rock producer Jay Joyce and about a third on his own.
He likened his first collaboration with Joyce, whose producing credits include The Whigs, Cage the Elephant and Eric Church, to working with a mad scientist.
“He records in his house and at first it was really scary. I felt like I was in a college kid's house and they didn't have any money and all the sounds were bleeding into everything,” Allan said laughing.
“I love it (that) he was the kind of guy that would chase down every idea no matter how absurd just to make sure we weren't gonna use it ... but then he always brought something cool out of that.”
While he plans to work with Joyce again, the headstrong honky-tonk rebel also intends to keep on calling his own shots.
“It's still a dictatorship. I want everybody's ideas, but we're still gonna do it my way,” he said with a laugh.
“It was never a chip on my shoulder. I tell people in hindsight, it was because ... when the opinions got too thick, it was ‘No, we're not doing that. We're doing this. This is my record.' And I didn't realize everybody wasn't doing that until I'd been here for a few years. But it really got me a lot of control for the rest of my career.”